Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Pitcher Reminds Us of the Strength of Women

Buried at the Carlisle Cemetery near the headquarters of the United States Army War College is a woman named Mary Hayes, otherwise known as "Molly Pitcher." Molly died January 22, 1822, and where her body now rests stands a cannon, a United States flag flying on a tall mast, and a statue commemorating Molly's heroism during the Revolutionary War.  Molly Pitcher is indeed a Revolutionary War hero. I am always captivated by stories of strength, bravery and heroism by American women, particularly since some Christian men seem to think women are not equal to men in these attributes. Molly's story reminds us that women are as capable as men, and once you hear her story, every time you see a pitcher on the kitchen table, maybe you'll be reminded of the strength of women. Some believe Molly's story is so incredible, so heroic that it must be a "fable" or the convergence of many stories. But if you are to believe the U.S. Army historians who give tribute to Molly Pitcher in the 1777 Hessian Powder Magazine Museum (and I do believe them), then this story is fact, not fiction.

Mary "Molly" Hays spent the winter of 1777 with George Washington and the American troops at Valley Forge, troops which included her husband William Hayes. Molly had married William, a Carlisle, Pennsylvania barber, in 1776. She had come to the battlefield to help Martha Washington and other army followers who washed blankets and clothes, nursed the sick and wounded, and provided other support for the American soldiers who were fighting the British for Independence. Surviving the brutal winter, the Americans fought a fierce battle against the British in June 1778 called the Battle of Monmouth. This is the battle where Mary "Molly" Hayes became Molly Pitcher.

June 28, 1778 was as in Monmouth as it had been cold in Valley Forge. Someone, according to the Army historians, had to bring water to cool the hot guns and quench the thirst in the parched throats of the American soldiers. Across the bullet-sprayed grounds, Mary Hayes began bringing pitchers of water to the solders from a nearby spring she had discovered. The cool spring water seemed to revive the men, and time after time, Mary brought pitchers of water, only stopping momentarily to care for the injured and wounded around her. On one particular occasion, she picked up a wounded American, put him on her shoulders, and carried him to the safety of the spring, far from the front. On one particular water pitcher trip, Mary watched as her husband replaced a fallen soldier as "the rammer" on a Patriot cannon near the front lines. Just as she noticed her husband working the cannon, William Hays also fell to the ground, having been shot by the British. Horrified, Mary treated her husband's wounds, while being under fire herself. Then she heard the order to withdraw the cannon because "there is no one left to operate it." After making sure William would survive, Molly stood and became the cannon rammer to insure the Patriot position would remain firm and the Americans would not withdraw. The woman that the American men had been calling for earlier in the battle by shouting "Molly! Pitcher!" - now became the woman leading the Battle of Monmouth at the fore cannon.

In the diary of one of the American patriots who marveled at Molly's courage, he records that a British cannon shot "tore the skirt" of Molly as she stood behind her cannon. Looking down and seeing the fabric damage, she calmly said, "Well, that could have been worse." Molly Pitcher stayed with her cannon until darkness and the British withdrew from battle. After the battle was over, George Washington encquired, "Who was that woman I saw operating the cannon today." Upon learning of Molly's heroism, George Washington, gave her a warrant for a noncommissioned officer. From that day until her death, Molly Pitcher was called Sergeant Molly by those who knew her.

If you ever find yourself near Carlisle, Pennsylvania and the Army War College (as I was yesterday), it would be well worthy your time to learn the story of Molly Pitcher and visit her grave. The flag, the cannon, and the bronze statue remind all Americans that the character and courage of patriots reside within both men and women. But if you are unable to visit Carlisle, just think of Molly Pitcher every time you see a pitcher of water on a table. It's symbol of the strength of American women.


Shari England said...

Had not heard that story. That's amazing!!

Rex Ray said...


Great Story!

If her statute was for what she did in the CIVIL WAR, would some attempt to tear it down as they have other statutes?

It’s been said, “Those who neglect their past have no future.”

Christiane said...

Love this! Thanks, Wade.

Christiane said...

Some of my family LIVE in a home in Plymouth NC where my grandmother was born and lived as a baby. The house itself is a Confederate landmark as it has a history that involves a skirmish and the death of a soldier in the house itself. I don't think the house will be torn down, as it is, and has been, a family home for generations and is presently occupied. Here is a write-up on the house:


My mother knew Hermine, and I knew Nee Humphries who has passed away. It is her daughter Kim who now resides in the house. It is still on the walking tour as a historical home during the summer season. It's beautifully preserved and appointed. Kim plans to leave it to her son and it will continue to be in the family for years to come, hopefully.

Christiane said...

Post Script:

REX RAY, the house is haunted! But that's another story. :)

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this story. It was so good to be reminded of her courage to carry on even in the face of such adversity and danger. This story inspires me each time I hear it.

Christiane said...


Rex Ray said...


Great story about the house!

Christiane said...


I wished my sister and I had taped Neva when she was telling us about the 'hauntings'. I can remember feeling the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. Neva could tell a good story, but she was in more than one way a true 'Daughter of the Confederacy' and had she lived to see the monuments taken down, she would have grabbed the replica of the Civil War musket from the upstairs bedroom where the sniper was shot;
and she would have gone a-protesting. Such was her devotion to the family history, as she was a direct descendant of Wm James Ausbon, a hero of the Siege of Petersburg. It was in her blood, you see.

Yes, my family had it's own Southern-styled version of 'Molly Pitcher' in Neva, at least in spirit, I think. I would wince sometimes listening to her talk about 'race', but I understand now something important:
that it took generations for people to become like Neva in their thinking, and it may take generations for people to change. . . . Unless the 'heart' is involved. And the Holy Spirit.
And even then, when you sit in a parlour like the one at Ausbon House on a hot summer day and drink sweet iced tea with your cousins, it is as though the 'late unpleasantness' was just within recent memory . . . . all that's missing are the hoop skirts and lace shawls :) Time has stopped in that house, REX. So strange. The house possesses a sad grace of its own.

Wade Burleson said...

I agree with Rex, Christian - great stories!

RB Kuter said...

Just reading in today's paper of women being sexually assaulted at Fort Benning, Ga. There are close to 30,000 sexual assaults in the military each year. We are struggling to assert women into military positions previously held only by men; women on long-term naval cruises, perhaps even in submarine-confined quarters with men, women on extended field exercises with male military, in recruit and combat training, etc. Of those 30,000 annual assaults, half are men victims. Even though that amount is somewhat skewed due to the military population being 70% male, it is still concerning, even though women victims are a much, much higher percent.

Prior to the "politicians" decision to force this surge of women living in these conditions, the questions should have been addressed and dealt with of: "Where do you quarter women in such circumstance? Homosexuals? Transgenders?"

The response of politicians is, "Punish the upper-level officers for these assaults occurring!" When in reality it is the POLITICIANS who connived this disaster who should be behind bars.

Our politically correct society has pushed this issue of women being in those roles previously confined to men to the point of forcing the military leaders to assimilate such dynamics into the military institution prior to our having answers to the most basic questions of how to mingle this diverse mix of gender identities.

It was fortunate that "Molly Pitcher" served during the days of a different society. Yes indeed, women are as valuable as men, but sane, wise, judgment should be applied "before" inserting them into pioneer roles in established institutions to assure they have equal opportunity to perform.

Christiane said...

Good Morning RRR,
I do understand some of the concerns people have about women going into battle, but the truth is that women have ALWAYS gone into battle even in the times when it was unexpected . . . Deborah in the Bible, Jael in the Bible who killed a general, Jeanne d'Arc the peasant girl who commanded the French troops who drove the English out of France . . .

It's not just about 'testosterone', no. The 'strength' of the heart (courage) is so much more than muscular strength. Women have lifted heavy cars off of their children who were trapped underneath, which is 'physically impossible,' yes; but they did it and saved their children in the process. So if we're talking about moral courage, let's examine one of the candidates coming up and look at her genetics and see if she is of good family for this trait. I give you a 19-year old young American to consider:

Serving her country is 'in her blood', as she comes from strong and I wish her well.

RB Kuter said...

Christiane, if you interpreted my comments to propose otherwise then I failed to communicate clearly.

Christiane said...

I am sorry if I have misunderstood what you wrote. I did not mean to do this. I reread what you wrote again, and I realize you were speaking with everyone's best interests at heart.
Yes. I agree that proper preparation and clarification is needed. And I believe from my niece who is a USN Lt.Cmdr. that this is being done currently.

Perhaps the problem we are seeing with the violations is a result of the ancient evil of misogyny that some of our young men are exposed to at an early age at home, some in their 'cultural bubble' that promotes misogyny, and some have most definitely been affected by the sick examples of powerful men who have been given the thumbs up by them what should have known better, as 'moral' leadership is needed now more than ever in our country.

Those unfortunate mixed messages to our young . . . . the military is changing this by education, and discrimination of any kind is now forbidden.

I am sorry for mis-reading your comment. Thank you for your response. I stand corrected.

Christiane said...

I love this:

RB Kuter said...

Christiane wrote: "Perhaps the problem we are seeing with the violations is a result of the ancient evil of misogyny that some of our young men are exposed to at an early age at home,"

I'm glad we're on the same page and that you too acknowledge the volatile environment which we have created by mixing gasoline and flame, i.e., integrating diverse gender mixes into a hostile "misogyny" environment.

I see it as being similar to a prison warden whose prison population is made up of urban gang member-inmates with extreme hostility toward members of other gangs, or having a mixture of "Nazi skinheads", "black militants", Hispanic drug cartel murderers, all residing in the same close, confined, environment. The Warden has to decide how to deal with it. He has several options:

1. Preach that it should not be this way. We should all love one another, live as God intended for us to be when He created Adam and Eve, get along, give respect to all others regardless of identity or affiliation, and support one another. If you don't, we're going to put you in the "hole" as punishment!

Then the warden just puts them all together, integrating the factions without any effort to create a structure that acknowledges the reality of the situation. He takes no meaningful steps that protects each from hostility that is sure to come from those who have not responded to his threats or sermons. He mistakenly believes forcing this integration is going to change the psyche of his inmates.

2. Recognize the volatility of the environment, segregate the factions while taking creative measures to minimize the basis of hostility prior to throwing them all together. Limit the time and exposure they have with one another until he can be assured that restrictions can be lessened. He assesses the effectiveness of measures taken and objectively considers options that would accommodate having a non-violent, safer, environment.

3. Build prisons that are segregated with all prisoners being assigned to one that fits the demographics and biological identity from the background from which they come.

I am sure there are other options, and perhaps this "prison" model is not a very good basis for an analogy for the military, but the main point I am attempting to make is:

Just talking about the way things "should be" while not acknowledging "the reality of the way things are" (In your words, a situation of having an environment of "misogyny") and taking action based on the former, is a sure way to create a disaster. It could have been avoidable and still achieve your purpose but without the unnecessary pain of prematurely forcing a situation prior to taking steps to remedy the complications.

I believe the same case could be made for women being in expanding roles in the church. Force them into unprecedented roles without preparing and leading the congregation to understand and appreciate their value and watch a church split. Take time to introduce them into roles that perhaps are somewhat low profile but still moving the agenda forward. At the same time, preparing the members and helping them to adapt to the concept. I suspect this is the method that Wade applies in his church.

Christiane said...

I don't think human persons need be held hostage to discrimination that comes from the past, no. I do believe that our military does have an understanding of this, and that it fosters 'respect', an honor code, and the keeping of focus on 'mission'.

In my own mind, anytime we can overcome the strictures of discrimination which held people captive in the past, that is a good thing. Maybe the story of Molly Pitcher speaks to this:
a need was filled in the ranks by someone who was 'not supposed to be there' but she WAS there and saw the need when her husband fell wounded and she took up the fight not so much in 'protest' of a 'rule' against those of her sex fighting on the battlefield, but because she saw a pressing need and was THERE, and she stood up to fill that need and that took as much courage as any man on that field could muster . . . which is why I know that the 'heart' is where the strength of a person really is: that place of 'coeur-age' . . . . and women are not lacking in that strength, no. Not in THIS country. Not even from the beginning of its history. :)

It may be that the military helps break down misogyny as a negative force in our country, when it deals with discrimination forcefully. And when 'discrimination' is the enemy of a fighting force, that means that the people serving realize that they are there to be on mission as trained for that purpose, not because of their race, or their sex, or their 'gender identity' or their religion or you-name-it. It's about respect for the PERSON's contribution to the mission, and because they all know, how well they know, that among them all are those who may not return to the homeland alive. It's courage that gives the last full measure. The military knows this well.

RB Kuter said...

Good word, Christiane. I was in active service during the 60s when serious integration of the races was taking place, big time. It was a challenge, but it worked out and did contribute greatly to social changes, though we still have a way to go.

RB Kuter said...

Oh, and please do convey our sincere appreciation to your daughter and any others serving, expressing our gratitude for their service to our country and our way of life here in America. Our military has never been better than it is today. That's why I believe and support their getting the best in every way.

Rex Ray said...

Does anyone care to answer the question I have asked?

“If her statute was for what she did in the CIVIL WAR, would some attempt to tear it down as they have other statutes?”

RB Kuter said...

Rex Ray, I hear they're going to outlaw movie, "Gone With The Wind". May be fake news, don't know.

Christiane said...

Keeping in prayer tonight for the suffering people in Texas in the flood areas.

Many people of faith are praying periodically for them.
If you wake in the night, please say a prayer for them, that they may be surrounded at all times with the prayers of Christian people.

In that way, we can be 'with' them in spirit. The flooding is overwhelming for so many. Please pray.

Rex Ray said...


I believe your request for the flood victims has been in the prayers of most Christians.

I’d like to add a request for prayer to those who are going down to give their service to correct the many problems like restoring electricity.

One such man whose nickname is “Speedy” is our church’s sound control man. His paying job as an electrician is running a crew that keeps red lights working in an area of Texas. He usually dose that by phone which allowed him to work on our church while it was under construction. I don’t know if he went down on his own or if his company sent him.

Christiane said...

yes, I think you are right about people praying for those who are affected by the flooding.
I saw a video of a room in a home for the aged with people sitting in wheel chairs and the water up to their waists, and it broke my heart. I want to 'be there' to help them but I am instead going to pray vigil for their sakes, and for the many others.
My son in the Coast Guard is involved in the organizing and sending of back-up repair crews in support of Coast Guard rescuers who have their equipment break down. He may have to fly into the area and, if so, I know he will go. And he will help, if he goes. He has himself saved lives before when at sea in the Caribbean.

Thanks for responding. I knew I could count on you, and on many others who read here to be praying. I'm glad you are safe where you are. And God Bless and protect that man 'Speedy' and all like him who are serving in the flood areas to help restore what is needed.

It's going to take time. And we can pray for God's Hand to close 'the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky' and for Him to restrain 'the rain from the sky' so that the waters may recede.
There is a precedent, as God in His infinite mercy has done this before:

"2 Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained; 3 and the water receded . . . " (from Gen 8)

Wade Burleson said...


It has been said "The history books are written by the winners." To answer your question, Molly's statue will not be torn down because she fought for the winning side.


Christiane said...

for those who are planning to donate to the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, I found this which is inspirational: